The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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A Place To Gather (And Use The Printer)

Diana Kimball praises the campus computer lab:

Computer labs offer a combination of connectivity and escape at the same time: they provide a location, a destination, where all of the necessary technological tools are assembled and maintained. They also establish in student


The two small computer labs in my college (with about 13 computers, 2 printers, and 350 students) are well used: full during prime hours and with some people in them throughout the day. Most people don’t carry their laptops to class, so the lab is where you go between classes and for free printing and xeroxing (and you always see somebody you know). There are only a few seats for people with laptops though. Laptop people go to the “lounge” room (which has seats for 3-4 people) or colonize an empty classroom in the building.

It works out pretty well, except that there isn’t enough space sometimes. And if I could modify the building, I’d put a big window in the computer lab wall to allow people in the hallway to peek inside the lab to see if they recognize anyone, making it a little bit more of a social space.

Also: a new couch, because the one in there is uncomfortable and has waaay too many suspicious stains. (All of the building’s couches and nicer pieces of furniture are donations from when faculty and staff redecorate their homes or move…)

It’s great that you mentioned the window; one of the great things about the computer lab at University of the Arts, one of the places I teach, is that it has a huge, wall-length window that opens out onto the hallway with the elevators — so as soon as you step out onto the floor, you can see everyone in the computer lab.

The sense of a computer lab as a social space also helps distinguish a computer lab from, say, a row of terminals in an open space in a library. These are essential – places to quickly check information, especially if you want to check out a book – but they’re not computer labs.

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